Several times a year I do prison visitation to bring encouragement to inmates who feel they have no one to turn to for a listening ear and a word of hope. Some are so hardened it is like talking to the cement walls, but others warm to the message that God will pardon them and give them a new purpose. Many people tell me I am wasting my time. Am I?
History reveals that there are those who have actually refused a pardon. From the records of the U.S. Supreme Court comes such a story of defiance. In 1829, a man named Wilson was indicted for robbing the mail and endangering the life of a government mail carrier. Wilson was tried and sentenced to death. But President Andrew Jackson issued him a pardon. The man refused it and chose death by hanging rather than receive forgiveness.
This is a picture of what Jesus Christ has done for us. He offers mankind a pardon for sin and waits for our response. Many refuse Him, but Jesus stands ready to forgive and has paid the penalty for man’s crimes against Him.
Chuck Colson, a former prisoner himself, had a great ministry reaching prisoners with the saving Gospel of Jesus Christ. Many people will be in Heaven whose lives have been transformed because of the message that penetrated hardened hearts. Keep proclaiming God’s truth, even if the message falls on deaf ears. When inmates find themselves alone in their cells, the Gospel message can work in unresponsive hearts after your departure.
Never cease telling people about this great rescue mission that brings freedom to those imprisoned, whether inside or outside prison bars. “Preach the gospel to the poor” and “proclaim liberty to the captives” (Luke 4:18).
(This column is based on the words and writings of the late Rev. Billy Graham.)